SAILOR & ALEXA on following in their mother’s footsteps and why CHRISTIE BRINKLEY is the best mom ever
Christie Brinkley has spent a lifetime in the spotlight as a supermodel, actress, Broadway star, businesswoman, wellness guru, environmentalist and more.
Until recently, her favorite role—mom of three—happened mostly off-camera. Now youngest child Sailor Brinkley Cook, 19 (whose father is architect Peter Cook), is following in her mom’s modeling footsteps. And Alexa Ray Joel, 32 (whose dad is musician Billy Joel), is a singer-songwriter. In 2017, all three posed for Sports Illustrated ’s Swimsuit Issue—“a fullcircle moment,” says Christie, 64, who appeared eight times in SI between 1975 and 2004.
So, what’s it like when your babies grow up and enter your work world? “Really fun!” says Christie. “I’m so proud when I get nice feedback about them from others in the industry.”
Here, Christie and her girls—and other moms and daughters who share a career or passion—talk about lessons learned.
What Mom taught us
“She’s taught me to look for the beauty in where I am and around me,” says Sailor. “That has helped me with optimism and happiness, especially living in New York City, which can sort of drain you and make you so cynical.”
The best advice her mom gave her, says Alexa, who announced her engagement to restaurateur Ryan Gleason on New Year’s Day and is at work on a new album, is “to bloom where you’re planted, which is not always easy to do. I’m not naturally as cheery or outgoing as her. I’m more of a worrier, but her gratitude and energy are really infectious. I didn’t get the endless Energizer Bunny gene, but when I’m around her, it’s contagious. She’s just like this golden, gleaming beam of sunshine.”
What Christie learned
“You learn so much from each child, just getting an opportunity to see the world through their eyes,” Christie says. “I have three real individuals [son Jack is 22]. They all find magic in different places, and I feel so fortunate to be able to experience that.”
“Most people don’t know this, but my parents are huge Disney and musical theater fans,” says Alexa. “My mom would help me dress up like Whitney Houston, or Princess Jasmine from
Aladdin, and do my hair and makeup, and my dad would play the music.”
She laughs: “I didn’t know they were famous until I was 8. I thought I was the star!”
Mom-led games of inspecting rocks and clouds (putting “a creative spin on everyday life”) gave Sailor a hyperawareness she brings to work today, she says. “My mom and I are both very interested in the other side of the camera, not just showing up for the job but asking questions and hearing stories.”
Celebrating Mom’s Day
“Of course, I bring her flowers—that’s the minimum,” says Alexa. “We try to all be together, which is
getting harder,” says Sailor. Sentimental Christie’s favorite holiday tradition: kid-made poems, cards and artwork (which is framed all over her homes in Bridgehampton, N.Y., and Manhattan). “Alexa is always open and mushy. But Sailor is kind of a badass with a softie heart, so she’s most likely to surprise me with a sweet letter,” Christie says. “With all of them, Jack too, there’s always a point where I can’t read it out loud because I burst into tears.”
Christie lost her own mother in 2012. She died of a broken heart, she says, just weeks after Christie’s dad died. “Everything I do right as a mom, I learned from my mom.”
ÀÃÌi ÀiÞ ÜÌ `>Õ} ÌiÀÃ ->À >` ƂiÝ>] >ÀV Óä£n] 9